It’s not surprising that the threat to destroy Roe V. Wade has shown its ugly head at the same time as a desperate, bloody war and a horrible white supremacist attack in Buffalo. All three are expressions of patriarchy gone haywire as power elites strive to achieve global dominance.
Yesterday I listened to a replay of an extraordinary talk by Eve Ensler, now “V,” in 2010 when she was launching V-Day, a global activist movement to stop the violence against women and girls.
Violence against women is a feature of war. It is not, however, declared to be a war crime, just part of the package of attacks on civilians. One of the most defiling and humiliating acts of man, rape is always amplified in war.
Now abortion dominates the news. Oklahoma has just passed a bill that prohibits abortion beginning at the point of conception. Trouble is, we don’t know exactly when sperm meets the egg and becomes a fetus. The story told by Representative Lucy McBath to the House Judicial Committee will just break your heart.
Violence against women is systemic to our culture, and the abuse of women becomes rampant in war because women are still utilized and diminished throughout our society. The patriarchal complex, which Caitlin Johnstone has recently called psychopathic, insists on domination and control, and includes the manipulation of nature to suit the desires of men.
Like its demon offspring war, patriarchy is a system that privileges and is run by men. Rich men get richer, powerful men gain recognition and the pride of victory for which less powerful men compete and strive. This is not the type of manhood we want to see!
Because we have seen war for centuries, we have come to consider it a facet of “human nature” to which we must resign ourselves. But it is not human nature, because it did not always exist.
A myth? Yes, certainly, but a powerful myth and virtually universal. All the ancient stories speak of a Golden Age, a time of peace and abundance enjoyed in the luscious gardens of paradise in many places all over the world.
What is extraordinary, and heartening, is that the record exists.
The painstaking work of archeologists, examination of buried artifacts, has unearthed thousands of fragments that confirm existence of societies in the ancient past who did not have war because they had no weapons. Most notable is the work of Marija Gimbutas already slipping into obscurity but never disproven. Gimbutas discovered fragments of a time when there was absolutely no evidence of organized warfare. No weapons.
One of the centers of this ancient culture of the Neolithic was the Cucuteni. The Cucuteni were a people that lived between 8000 and 5000 BC and left us a marvelous treasure trove of beautiful pottery marked with symbols that constitute, in Gimbutas’ view, an early system of written language. It is a language that edifies the reproductive capacity of women and worships nature as the divine mother of all.
The Cucuteni tilled the rich black earth of their homeland in Ukraine, a land whose indigenous traditions still retain some of the qualities of that ancient culture. Of course, the Cucuteni lived very long ago; but the mythological dimension of this ancient history reverberates through time like an echo, demanding our attention, conveying that a message may be hidden in the dark synchronicity of these long-ago events.
The peaceful Cucuteni culture was extinguished by successive invasions from a foreign power: the Northern Indo-European ancestors of the Slavs. They arrived on horseback out of the Northern Steppes, brandishing weapons. They easily overcame – do we call it progress? – the peaceful village people of what was to become the breadbasket of Eurasia.
What does this mean? It suggests that three thousand years of peace is possible, but it has been supplanted by an invasive tribal culture that we labor under today.
As must be obvious, women have never liked war. We don’t like to see our lovers go off to war. It breaks our hearts to raise our sons only to see their crushed corpses sent back to us from the bloody fields of battle. We don’t like to hold crying children to our bosoms while bombs fall. We don’t like to see our homes destroyed and we hate to become refugees in foreign countries. A woman-centered response would be to stop the war now.
Mairead McGuire, Nobel prize winner for helping to stop the war in Ireland, speaking in a recent online panel, “Women of the World Call for Peace Now”, brought tears to my eyes as she spoke of the inhumanity of war:
The world is falling apart and we are allowing our governments in our name to destroy it …Whenever I look at what’s happening in Ukraine, so many thousands and thousands of people will not survive because they’ve lost someone they love, they lost their homes which have been demolished, they had to flee to strange countries and start over…So we have to say to ourselves, How do we stop this war, these nuclear weapons, this madness? Because it is madness.
I think we start by recognizing violence is always wrong.
A more horrifying effort to call America’s attention to the real consequences of nuclear war is renowned anti-nuclear physician Helen Caldecott’s fervent proposal on the online weekly program Nuclear Hotseat that she speak privately with Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, followed by a shake-up conversation with the “evil” Mitch McConnell and a speech both houses of Congress to enlighten them about the insanity of their policies and urge them to stop.
The world brims with powerful women. If we rose up en masse – if we chose the Lysistrata option of refusing our many favors so long as men go to war – would that bring this war to an end? It worked in Sierra Leone where it led to a women’s government, and in Iceland. I believe it could stop this global war, but women are silent, persuaded perhaps by the story we’ve been told about Standing by Ukraine as they face the Russian marauders.
Is there another path to peace? Short of an immediate ceasefire, Ukraine, not so innocent as portrayed, could surrender.
Surrender, when your country is being decimated and your people slaughtered, can be a wise choice. According to the I Ching, certainly not a manual for sissies, under Hexagram 33, “Retreat,” “Great indeed is the meaning of the time of retreat” —
Success lies in being able to retreat at the right moment and in the right manner. This success is made possible by the fact that the retreat is not forced flight of a weak person but the voluntary withdrawal of a strong one…Strength is shown in that one does not attempt to force anything but shows perseverance in small matters alone, because the dark element…is pressing forward and on the increase.
Dark element indeed! In this case that dark element is white supremacy which, as we have just seen in the horrifying tragedy in Buffalo is a growing network of hate all around the world. It used to be Arab supremacy, terrorism. It’s the same thing: extolling the superiority of one’s own race, in this case the pure race of Ukraine, wildly nationalistic and striving for political control of the homeland. Everywhere they are vicious.
Alas, the United States has been supporting nationalist extremists in Ukraine, arming and training them, and turning a blind eye to their infiltration into the Ukrainian security forces.
US denial of neo-fascism in Ukraine is an integral part of the propaganda “narrative” that the media has been putting forth, portraying Ukrainians as poor beleaguered victims of a tyrannical Russian invasions, a narrative which has confused everyone, especially liberals. But that is for another discussion.
At least so far, the Ukrainians will not surrender. It is unmanly. They have to win, and the reason in part is that they do not want to be under the thumb of the Russians. They hate Russia; judging from the words of President Zelenskyy, for them this is a war for freedom, not only for Ukraine it seems but somehow for the entire Europe (an absurd, egocentric claim).
An interesting novel, I Will Die in a Foreign Land, conveys a sense of how life was under the Russians, at least up until 2014, a picture of why Ukrainians have so much zeal even in allying with fascists to fight off the invasion. But it’s not 2014, and more importantly we are not dealing with the Soviet Union, whose treatment of the Ukrainians was lethal.
We make a great mistake if we ignore history. People change and so do governments. Last week I saw an interview with Henry Kissinger that astonished me. The man was making perfect sense and clearly, now in his 90s, he had given some thought to the ethics of foreign policy. Yet over 3000 comments lambasted him for his “evil” behavior during the Vietnam war. If we can’t hear each other, will we ever make peace?
Some Ukrainians at least, among them Zelenskyy, seem to think that joining NATO will give them more freedom. Certainly it will give them more weapons, but an examination of the US-Ukraine solidarity agreement of September 1, 2021, and careful observation of US-Ukrainian interactions now also suggest that Zelenskyy has found his way into a different trap, the trap of western colonialism. In its fight for freedom it is merely surrendering its supposed freedom to a more powerful one. Representing 30 countries (Ukraine would make 31) NATO members must comply with a number of requirements, including spending lots of money to buy lots of dangerous weapons from Lockheed Martinas part of NATO’s ongoing militarization of the new Eastern European nations along Russia’s Border.
In all of this, there have been a few small calls for ceasefire.
Last week, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin finally talked to his Russian counterpart, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, for the first time since the invasion. According to historian Heather Cox Richardson, who reports on American government daily in her very reliable blog, Letters from an American, “the defense department readout said simply: “Secretary Austin urged an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine.” What?? Just two weeks ago Austin said America would not give up until Russia was “weakened”, an extraordinary statement considering the US has said it can’t participate in negotiations because “we’re not in the war.” Well, they’re suddenly becoming more honest. And just today I have heard that three European nations, Italy, France and Germany, are calling for a ceasefire.
But no commentators seem to be taking any of that very seriously, and apparently the US propaganda machine (that’s what it is) does not which to broadcast these feeble efforts. Instead, we hear that talks have been blocked.
What we need is an uprising of the world’s women. It’s happening on abortion, always the solidifying and energizing issue of the women’s rights movement, and it is screaming over the Buffalo shooting with its Displacement Theory. Labor rights are suddenly in the headlines. But a united, women-led movement has not yet taken the next step, to rise up against war.
Were all these movements to united, we might win this war. And it is possible, but there is not much time. A woman’s voice, nurturing, wise and heartful, the voice of Mairead McGuire, “V” (Eve Ensler), Helen Caldecott and all the others who yearn for men, a mother’s touch, is desperately needed.
Such an uprising, one of love and peace may be the last option for saving our world.